s. lowe wrote:I dont know your life or circumstances Antonio so I can't offer anything that I could expect to be deeply meaningful but here is my response to your post.
I think that if you try to go at this bit by bit, you will end up with a pleasant yard. I think that if you want to make a go at making it profitable and a business you need to make a real go of it. And this seems like the perfect time. Make a plan (remembering it can always change if needed), do your best to execute the plan, and see where it can go.
As far as model, I would explore the membership/CSA/subscription model. This will require more work in marketing you and your farms story but will also maximize the price you can get for your efforts.
Stephan Schwab wrote:Hi!
We might want to talk to each other. Please check out http://granja.caimito.net We are "next door" in Andalucia. Please send email to firstname.lastname@example.org
There is a lot of things than can be done in Spain but one might stir up things a bit and get a negative reaction because of the positive thing one is doing.
s. lowe wrote:Antonio, what I meant by "go for it" was make the full time move and make a plan. In my experience commuting to a farm is a recipe for other things to take precedence, especially when little ones are a factor.
I would say that you also need to make a business plan. Who is your market? What are you going to sell them? How are you going to deliver it? How much will they pay for it? How much will they buy? The answers to these questions will guide your planting choices. Just planting a diversity of things you like to eat is a great way to make a personal garden but not necessarily a good approach to an agricultural enterprise.
The choice I think you need to make first is this;
Do you want this space to be a place where.you experiment and learn while building a wonderful food forest for your families enjoyment?
Do you want to turn this into a commercial enterprise in relatively short order?
If its the latter, then I think you need to make a business plan before planting more things so that the planting can be aligned with the business plan. You might try producing some annual crops and selling them as a way to test your markets and to test different bottom story plants. I just think that if you dabble around building lovely gardens you will have a hobby and a nice home but some years from now you will still be facing the problem of how to monetize your garden instead of having a farm
Maria Hoffmeister wrote:I've only started this year with restructuring my garden, so I can't give you any specific advice, but I can tell you what I did and why, maybe that will spark some ideas for your own situation. (Still can't do paragraphs, so this will be a long one.) The climate here is exactly as you describe it, and so is the attitude of the locals, especially when they've been farmers for generations. 😉 Including the house, my plot is about 800 m2 and has 8 olive trees on it. The soil is not very fertile, and in some parts there is sheer limestone, so I consider most of it a foundation for raised beds rather than soil. ----- The first thing I did was to get clear on a plan: What do I want this garden for in the long term (food, plants for dyeing wool, beauty) and what can I achieve with ease (on average not more than one hour per day) in the next couple of years to get things started. For food I want to focus on what others don't have - I get lemons, oranges, cabbage and butternut squash from friends, sometimes potatoes or avocados, so im planting sweet potatoes, New Zealand spinach and strawberries and can give some of the young plants to others as well. Apart from the olives I have a loquat and a mulberry tree, and want to add three more mulberries, a pomegranate and a grapefruit, which are either difficult to get or expensive. ----- The second thing was not to cut the weeds, but to observe what comes up and what their properties are, and then see what I want to keep, to relocate, or to replace with something similar. For example, a lot of the ground is covered by oxalis in winter/ spring, which keeps the weeds down, delivers acid to the very alkaline soil, and gives a bright orange dye. Another example is Bitumen bituminosa, a legume that binds nitrogen, gives shade, can be cut to encourage longer growth, the stripped stalks make wattle and the flowers and leaves are mixed with the soil to loosen it up. ----- The third thing is water; as you know, there's hardly any rain from June to September. End of May I get many sheep fleeces from a local farmer, and the first wash (just clean enough for storage and further hand processing) is only with water. On average I use 5 buckets of water per day which is enough for most of the plants that need watering, and an additional source of fertiliser. The base of the raised beds this year is cut weeds (most of them wild oats and such) plus urine for moisture and nitrogen. In a few weeks this will be topped with cardboard, compost, topsoil and straw which I can get from a friend who had some strimming done. ----- I don't consider my garden for making a living by selling the produce, although in a couple of years it will cover most of our fruit and veggie needs, but as part of my life and what I want to do (design and make clothing and other items from wool) it contributes directly. By the way, I've spent so far 60 Euros, 20 of it for tools, the rest for potting soil in order to get started as I didn't have any compost yet. ----- Regarding compost, over the past years I had no success at all with slow composting, but hot compost and raised beds work well in this climete. ----- As for the locals, most of them are too polite to "correct" my point of view regarding my gardening ideas, but I can tell what they are thinking . 😄 However, I've been planting thought-seeds by telling them about a not-new-but-forgotten traditional gardening method called permaculture, that gives better harvests with less work ... now who wouldn't like that! At least one of them must have looked up some information, because I saw some straw bales on his pickup, and as he only got chicken for animals, I assume he'll start with mulching.
I think a nursery is a great start, and very flexible because you don't need to be totally clear on what you want to do later, there a so many options! One of them for instance developing/breeding plants specifically for your climate, while having plenty to eat yourself and even surplus to give away, trade or sell. I think the size of your plot would be sufficient for keeping test plants separate. As for money, in my calculation above I forgot that I spent 2 Euros on seeds for the New Zealand spinach and climbing strawberries. Anything else came from friends as a gift or swap, and the single sweet potato from the supermarket shelf. For onion, celery and lettuce seeds from local plants, I have planted the bottom parts with the roots, with the sole purpose of growing them for seeds. Of course there will be a great variety of plants, not as with true, bought seeds, but by selecting the best over a few years I'll get customised plants.
Antonio Hache wrote:I’m now thinking on setting up a backyard nursery to grow my own things, I think I will save money with it
I did many things the last weeks, but couldnt use much Internet. I’ve got a lot of land planted and mulched, and more to come!
Ben Zumeta wrote:Oh, I’d also host or join some fruit juice pressing events and take the mash home to plant where you don’t plan any other earthworks or buildings. Sepp Holzers advice, which I’ve followed with success, is to spread the mash on your poorest native soil, cover with mulch, and let nature select for the strongest tree for that spot amongst thousands of seeds.
Hugo Morvan wrote:Excellent work Antonio Hache! Spain is becoming desert rapidly. Trees, trees , trees are needed, and especially food trees as a start.
Are you going to do something with herbs as well?Shrubs like rosemary and sage will do good as well won't they? And grapes maybe?
And are you going to attract biodiversity by collecting all local plants as well?
sarah jane wrote:I love the idea of planting what you can't get, as someone mentioned. For me, I plant what I can get. I know for sure, here in a poverty stricken area, people eat these items and will buy. I also know we will use them. And for sure they'll grow here, especially if native, or "invasive" (ie abundant!)
Your question, to me, feels like my question. You have trees. What is your next layer? I have the same question, but perhaps we can stoke ideas together.
Here's what I know:
7 layers and several uses:
7 layers (shape and size)
Herbaceous (I feel like this is simply normal knee to waist high plants, not necessarily spices. Am I wrong?)
Vines (trees aren't tall enough yet, so we're good here)
(You can add mushrooms. I would LOVE to add mushrooms. ❤️❤️❤️)
Uses: (these can be any shape plant)
Accumulators (COMFREY!!! Elderberry, mulberry ❤️❤️❤️, mint, etc) these (aside from their multiuse as (super) foods are mother plants and feed those around them alive and from trimmings. Comfrey is KING but we can't find/grow it here yet, but I found and feel in love with mulberry.
Nitrogen fixers: nut trees, beans. Similar to above but they accumulate nitrogen. Very important.
Flowers: attract good bugs, confuse bad ones. Even sellers are partial to marigolds here. (I hope that's right. Pretty sure it starts with an M. They look a little like a cross between a daisy and a rose and are often orange.)
Chili peppers: (this isn't on lists I've seen, just a personal preference.) Also helps with bugs and you can make insect spray with it. The spray also feeds the plants and heals your chickens.
Have I missed anything?
So here we are. You have trees and clean land. I have trees and weeds.
(Groundcover) For me, I have started overtaking weeds with sweet potatoes. I was doing cancun but realized it's not something anyone buys, and we seldom use it. (Wifey! 😡) But so far I love the spread of these sweet potatoes. I'm not being creative, so it might be one of my main crops. I consider potatoes as well, but haven't had as much luck YET. I thought squashes might be good groundcover for a lazy farmer like me, but I should have done more weeding. They did thrive though. It's just they're in a pile of weeds
We have neighbor chickens that forage at our place. Such a blessing! Free poop. What will you do for poop? (I've heard some talk about urine. Hey y'all! I heard female pee is bad for plants. True or false?)
I've read onions and garlic are great blah blah blah. Don't fall for it. They are consumed by weeds in days. Unless you want to weed... Maybe they'd work in a compost pile???)
I love my taro (Gabi, elephant ear, Filipino potato) for herbaceous layer. It survives shade better than others. I shove those under trees, along with ginger and turmeric. These I'll leave alone and let them become mothers. Don't find this layer inspiring though, and could use A LOT of ideas. I think my wife's okra seems permie and will put more of that out right now.
Um, don't be afraid to plant things because they won't fit in the future. That's not how forests work. Things will get overshaded now and then. Death is life and excess wood is gonna send you down the hugelculture route later. If you feel you might have room for vines but worry perhaps try something lightweight? Kiwis, grapes, passionfruit❤️❤️❤️ (yummy and abundant) are some ideas.
I love your business responses. I'm an ex engineer, and I know you can plan and create, but the universe gets the final decision every time. Follow your path and your simple life abundance will find you.
Mare Silba wrote:Hi Antonio, your project looks really interesting. Love the diversity of plants you are experimenting with.
Regarding ants - yes they can be extremely annoying and this autumn they took away most of the spinach seeds in my garden too. Don't be surprised if next spring you find spinach and carrots growing in clumps several meters or even much further away from where you sow them. That happened to me several times with different vegetables, there is no rule there. Currently my approach is to just sow some more seeds, but I'm still not sure if that is the right way to go. Sometimes it feels like I'm providing them a regular supply of seeds and they get accustomed to always have something to collect at the same spot season after season. I want to try seed balls for the next seeding period for leafy green seeds and see how that goes.
Hugo Morvan wrote:Saving seed is a nice way to save money and have enough not to worry about things going wrong. Dead ants end up in your soil biome sooner or later.
This is my spinach seeds after the autumn seeding, i bought a package 8 years ago i think, still going strong.
John C Daley wrote:Is that a factory in the back ground ?
Abraham Palma wrote:Hola Antonio,
I don't know if this can help you, but if you are going to try the enterprise route, then maybe you could get some help from a group that works in Granada and Almería. Alvelal, they offer help to farmers there to create what they call the 'almendrehesa', something like a dehesa but using almonds. The turning point of this system is that they make work together farmers and restaurants in branding their products. Since, you know, farming in permaculture style has lower yields (but more resilient), something must be done to increase revenues. They have some neat ideas, so maybe they can offer counsel.
The easiest path is to use a market garden just for your family needs, something easy that leaves you time for homesteading, cooking, preserving your food and all. This way you can raise whatever you want, full diversity, and only your wife might complain about not having what she loves to eat (mine is not thrilling with the verdolaga in our salad). But this is only profitable if you are gardening at home, thus reducing inputs of all kinds, transport, etc. You can't do that and sell your produce to shops, since most people only want tomato, lettuce and onion in their basket, not a diverse crop. But those are found at shops at prices you can't compete with. So, in order to make money with a thing like this, you have to look for alternative ways, different sell chains. Or turn it into a workshop for volunteer to work for you! :D